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Cash & ATMs in Tanzania: All on fees, limits, cards, forex for travel

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cash currency exchange atms in tanzania

Tanzania, a country celebrated for its vast wilderness areas, includes the plains of the Serengeti National Park, a safari mecca populated by the big five game (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino), and Kilimanjaro National Park, home to Africa’s highest mountain. From the bustling markets of Dar es Salaam to the peaceful islands of Zanzibar with their white-sand beaches and historical Stone Town, Tanzania offers an adventure into some of the most iconic African landscapes. Understanding the local cash, use of ATMs in Tanzania, and available payment options is essential. This guide provides the financial knowledge required to navigate Tanzania’s varied terrains with confidence, ensuring a trip filled with natural wonders and cultural insights.

Is cash required in Tanzania, or will a card suffice?

The majority of Tanzanians, particularly those living in rural areas and shopping at local markets, prefer to get cash. Especially in less urban places.

You’ll need cash…
To buy goods from local markets and street vendors
For buses and other forms of informal public transportation
To eat at places serving small plates and coffee
For admission fees of some national parks and protected areas where card facilities are unavailable
Small tour operators
Budget accommodations

You can use your card at…
Most hotels and longer-running businesses in urban areas and at tourist hotspots like Zanzibar
Downtown areas with larger restaurants
Malls with international stores
Domestic flights
Reputable safari and tour operators.

What are the accepted currencies? Are US dollars, Euros, or British pounds acceptable in Tanzania?

The Tanzanian Shilling (TZS) is the official and most accepted currency with common note denominations including 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10,000 TSh.

In Tanzania, the tourist industry, which includes hotels, safari companies, and a few bigger shops, generally accepts US Dollars. In tourist areas, Euros are also accepted, though they aren’t as common as US Dollars. You cannot typically pay with pounds.

How can one get the local currency in Tanzania?

You can get the cash in three main ways: ATMs, Currency Exchange and Money Transfer

Tip: Don’t buy Shilling back home. Because of its low global popularity, this currency is unlikely to be readily available in your home country, and even if it is, the exchange rate will be unfavourable.

Where to find ATMs in Tanzania?

Common locations for Tanzania’s more than 2,000 ATMs include:

Important airports
Town plazas and marketplaces
Main streets in all big cities
Commercial centres
Food streets
Bank branches
Several office complexes

Here are some areas where you might have trouble finding ATMs:

Regional airports
Islands
Safari locations
Stops for regional buses
Rural interiors
In small towns, away from the main streets
Remote getaways and resorts.

Where to find currency exchanges in Tanzania

You can use these places to exchange money in Tanzania:

Authorised currency exchange centres: You will find them in touristy spots of Dar Es Salaam and some in Zanzibar.
Banks: Bank branches can also easily convert your currency to Shilling, especially from currencies like US dollars, Euros, Pounds, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, and Singapore dollars. Expect a pay a commission of 0.5% to 2% per transaction.
Hotels and airports: Airports have lots of currency exchanges and so do many large and small hotels. But the exchange rates are not great.

Pro-tip:

Don’t exchange at airports – Rates are poor
Don’t exchange at the black market – You’re likely to be scammed
Bring new notes – Damaged, dirty notes will get you lesser rates or higher fees

Which type of cards are accepted in Tanzania?

Most ATMs in Tanzania accept the following major credit and debit cards: Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, and Plus. JCB, UnionPay, American Express, Diners, Discover, and Rupay are not accepted by most of them.

For swiping, you can easily use Visa and Mastercard. There might be very few establishments that accept American Express.

Hard cash is preferred for currency exchanges. Visa is widely accepted, with Mastercard following closely behind. Keep in mind that using your card at a currency exchange will incur more fees.

Are ATMs in Tanzania similar to other countries?

Yes, definitely. ATMs in Tanzania are very much like ATMs everywhere else. Contemporary in design and operation, the ATMs mimic their counterparts in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and India. Make sure to remove your card from the ATM after using it, as some of them may take it entirely during the transaction.

At some ATMs, you may be given the option to convert currencies with the words With Conversion, Accept Conversion, Without Conversion or Decline Conversion displayed. To avoid unnecessary additional fees, choose Without Conversion or Decline Conversion.

Popular bank ATMs

Stanbic Bank
NBC
DTB
NMB Bank
KCB
Absa
EcoBank
I&M Bank

How to identify an ATM in Tanzania

ATMs in Tanzania usually will have the word ‘ATM’ on them or they will be without an ‘ATM’ word with only the bank name.

PIN types

ATM PIN Length: Typically, PINs that are four digits in length are accepted in Tanzania.

Merchant Card Requirements: While chip-and-PIN cards are more commonly accepted, magnetic stripe cards are still the norm.

Languages at currency exchanges and ATMs in Tanzania

Money exchanges and ATMs in Tanzania have 2 language options – Swahili and English by default. If you don’t understand any of these languages, take advantage of Google Translate’s built-in camera feature to get real-time translations of the ATM scree. Please take your time and not rush through the transaction because these translations are not always 100% accurate.

To get your cash in Tanzania at a currency exchange, you can also interact in the two languages mentioned above.

Withdrawal limits and ATM fees in Tanzania

Limits: Most ATMs cap withdrawals per transaction at between Tsh 400,000 and 600,000.

ATM Access fees in Tanzania range from Tsh 0 to Tsh 16,000. This means there are brands of ATMs that don’t charge any fees at all!

Using ATM Fee Saver, you can locate free ATMs, exchange currencies, and send and receive money in Tanzania. The ATM Fee Saver app or website will provide a list of the fee-free ATMs, currency exchanges, and money transfer locations in Tanzania on a map. It also shows the maximum withdrawal amounts and costs associated with using foreign cards at these ATMs. To find out the exact withdrawal fees in Tanzania, use the app’s simple calculator. You can use the app’s navigation feature to get to the ATM after you choose one. Tanzania is one of 50+ countries covered.

Tips to reduce fees from Tanzanian ATM and currency exchanges

For ATMs:
Make use of the country’s fee-free ATMs.
Locate fee-free or low-fee ATMs using the ATM Fee Saver app.
Choose Decline Conversion or Without Conversion when making an ATM withdrawal.
Get cards from your home country that do not charge any fees.

For currency exchanges:
Stay away from no-fee exchange offices — They factor in their fee into the exchange rate if they state there is no fee.
Avoid using credit and debit cards at currency exchanges.
In your home country, you shouldn’t purchase Shilling (unless you are from a country in Africa) – You can expect poor exchange rates because it is not a popular currency worldwide.
Returning home with a large amount of Shilling will result in a poor exchange rate, so it’s best to avoid doing so. And outside of Tanzania, currency exchanges may likely not even buy it back (unless you are in some countries in Africa).

How safe are Tanzania ATMs and currency exchanges?

Usually, they are safe to use. ATMs have cameras and some ATMs have security guards. However,

Consider using an ATM at a bank branch: In most cases, these are safer and less vulnerable to devices that capture sensitive information.
Keep an Eye on Your Credit Card Purchases. Report to your bank any suspicious purchases right away.
Never Do Sensitive Business on a Public Wi-Fi Network. For an extra layer of protection, set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Maintain Visibility of Your Card. Do not give your credit card to businesses that take it away while swiping it.
Always Have Two Cards on You. So, you’ll always have a backup plan in case one of your cards has problems.
Never exchange money at an unlicensed or unregistered exchange.

Is it safe to travel with cash in Tanzania?

In Tanzania, it is safe to carry a reasonable amount of cash. However, here are some things to keep in mind if you plan on travelling with cash in Tanzania:

Avoid carrying around a large sum of money by distributing it among several locations.
Wear a fanny pack or safety belt to hold some of your cash.
Stay away from flaunting a large sum of money in public.
Make smaller payments rather than showing a large sum of money all at once.
For added security, put your wallet in your front pockets.
In busy public places, such as party streets, trains, and buses, exercise extreme caution with your valuables.

FAQs

Is there a fee to withdraw cash in Tanzania?

Foreign card holders can withdraw their cash fee-free from 3+ different bank ATMs.

Cards from the US, UK, Europe, and Australia are accepted in Tanzania?

Yes. The majority of Tanzanian ATMs accept major cards issued by the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia.

In Tanzania, can I find Bitcoin ATMs?

Dar es Salaam has a small number of Bitcoin ATMs.

Any Bank of America ATM in Tanzania?

No, Tanzania does not have any Bank of America ATMs.

Any Barclays bank ATMs in Tanzania?

In Tanzania, you won’t find any Barclays ATMs.

Any HSBC ATMs in Tanzania?

Tanzania does not have any HSBC ATMs.

Any Standard Chartered ATMs in Tanzania?

A small number of Standard Chartered ATMs are present in Tanzania.

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